After a whole 2 ½ weeks in Jalal-Abad, I needed to return to Bishkek
to apply for a longer visa. It usually takes two weeks to process so I got
there Dec 10, enough time to get all my documents in order and turn them in,
knowing something would be missing and I’d have to go back a couple times
before everything was good enough for them to accept my papers and begin the
process. It seems to never fail, that when I have everything just as it was
once before, something has changed and I need something more or something
different. I was prepared for this.
I got the check list of things I needed. I went with my director to
get the proper documents of our organization and get the proper signatures of
the proper people. He said this is usually a three day process- something I
didn’t need during my previous term. Thankfully, upon entering the building he
ran into a childhood friend of his, who had some status within the building. He
took our papers and did the running around for us; gathering the signatures and
stamps which we needed. Instead of three days, it took one afternoon!! I
thought for sure this was a good sign and the rest of the process was going to
go just as smooth. Boy was I wrong!
I usually have gotten a visa before entering Kyrgyzstan, but this
time I was told that they have a stamp you can get upon entering the airport,
it’s like a free, two month tourist visa. Unfortunately, I found out that the
stamp does not qualify as a real visa. That’s what the lady told me as I
brought in my paperwork, that and that in order to get a visa I’ll have to
leave the country and upon re-entering get a visa at the air port. So…I
brainstormed my options:
*Travel to Kazakhstan. Going by car would be cheaper. Though I’d
have to stay in Almaty for a couple weeks while I applied for a Kyrgyzstan visa
at the Kyrgyz Embassy there…though who do I stay with. Then I found out I’d
also need a visa for that country which alone was $220!
*Buy a plane ticket to Istanbul and come back in the same day- about
$500. Though if I was traveling to Istanbul, I’d rather make a trip of vacation
out of it; no fun by myself.
*Uzbekistan apparently was not a viable option. Everyone told me
*Fly to Tajikistan for a few days- visa- $33, plane ticket-$100+,
stay for free with YFC people there.
So I went and bought a plane ticket for Dushanbe!
Before I left, I made sure I had all my paper work in order so that
upon my return to Kyrgyzstan I could apply for a 6mo visa at the air port.
As I entered the air port in Kyrgyzstan, I saw that the counselor’s
room was shut and locked. I asked a lady where I could get a visa, she asked me
where I was from and I said I’m American, and she said that I didn’t need a
visa (referring to the free 60 day stamp), and I smiled and said I know but I
need a visa. She then proceeded to point to the locked room. I walked back over
and knocked on the door and pulled, she noticed it wasn’t open. She went to ask
someone else who then came over and we had the same conversation about me not
needing a visa, but me needing a visa. So I sat there and waited while they
called for someone. Then I see a guy walking over with a brief case…I’m sure
this is the guy and I’m already at strike two because I’ve obviously taken him
from something else. He goes in the room and opens the window and tells me to
fill out a form. I hand him my packet of forms and documents and tell him I’d
like to apply for a six month visa. He takes my papers, looks at them, gives
them back- all but the top paper, and says I’ll give you a one month visa and
you can apply for a longer one in the country…that’ll be $70. I paid the guy,
got my one month visa sticker in my passport and proceeded to pick up my
luggage. I’m certain everyone there thought I was crazy- I just paid $70 for a
30 day visa when I could get a 60 day pass for free…everyone including myself.
I arrived in Kyrgyzstan on Christmas, December 25. In few short days
it will be New Years and all the offices will be closed for at least the first
week of January. I’m now in a race against time. So much for planning on having
my visa by Christmas and returning to Jalal-Abad after New Years!
Ever know you need to do something, but dread doing it because you know it’s not going to go as you hope.
Yes, that was me. I arrived Tuesday afternoon, and finally made it back to the
Department of Foreign Affairs on Friday, to once again give someone my
documents and apply for a 6mo visa so I could return to the south and be able
to stay there for a while before needing to once again return and reapply. I
went by myself as everyone was sick or busy, and of course, as I handed the
lady my papers, she looked through them and said the letter was missing stuff,
I needed stamps on three papers, and I couldn’t apply for a 6mo visa; the most
they could give me was a 3mo visa for some reason I didn’t understand.
So once again, I left with my papers in hand and I wanted to cry! I
called my director and told him of the changes that needed to be made and the
other things that needed to be done.
Saturday, December 29, my friend and I, with papers, documents,
corrections in hand went again to the DOFA. This time they accepted everything
and said my passport and 3mo visa would be ready January14. When my friend
asked why I could only get a three month visa, the lady said because ours is an
organization not a fund. When we left we both looked at each other and just
shook our heads and laughed because that very week the other American volunteer
on our team was given a 6 month visa!
Oh Kyrgyzstan, I love you, but sometimes you make me want to pull my